Last month, Google began opening up about the accidents it encounters with its autonomous vehicles. While the overall number of accidents is low, accidents are accidents, and are worthy of note. Especially when we're talking about a vehicle that's driving itself.
In Google's favor, the accidents it's been encountering haven't been its fault. Surprise, surprise: it's been the fault of drivers who are not paying close enough attention. Take, for example, an accident that occurred just a few weeks ago, on July 1.
When Google's Lexus began to slow down at an intersection, so too did a couple of cars in front of it. One car behind didn't, though. Traveling at 17 MPH, the car failed to brake and smashed into the back of Google's car, causing a bit of whiplash. You can see this play out in the simple video below.
From the video, it's easy to tell that the driver of the guilty vehicle wasn't paying any attention at all, as there was a wide gap between Google's car and it.
Google doesn't like accidents, but they do provide valuable data. But here's a problem: these crashes are not entering affecting national averages, because in order for that to happen, a police report must be filed. Thus far, not a single Google-related accident has resulted in that, not even this particular one (even though police had arrived on the scene.)
The lesson to be learned from all of this is simple: so far, autonomous driving is safe, and, not surprisingly, the real threat are those who don't pay enough attention while driving.